Everybody Cheats?

Gary Alan Fine's early survey of role-playing games found that everybody cheated. But the definition of what cheating is when it applies to role-playing games differs from other uses of the term. Does everyone really cheat in RPGs?

Yes, Everybody

Gary Alan Fine's work, Shared Fantasy, came to the following conclusion:

Perhaps surprisingly, cheating in fantasy role-playing games is extremely common--almost everyone cheats and this dishonesty is implicitly condoned in most situation. The large majority of interviewees admitted to cheating, and in the games I played, I cheated as well.

Fine makes it a point of clarify that cheating doesn't carry quite the same implications in role-playing as it does in other games:

Since FRP players are not competing against each other, but are cooperating, cheating does not have the same effect on the game balance. For example, a player who cheats in claiming that he has rolled a high number while his character is fighting a dragon or alien spaceship not only helps himself, but also his party, since any member of the party might be killed. Thus the players have little incentive to prevent this cheating.

The interesting thing about cheating is that if everyone cheats, parity is maintained among the group. But when cheating is rampant, any player who adheres slavishly to die-roll results has "bad luck" with the dice. Cheating takes place in a variety of ways involving dice (the variable component PCs can't control), such as saying the dice is cocked, illegible, someone bumped the table, it rolled off a book or dice tray, etc.

Why Cheat?

One of the challenges with early D&D is that co-creator Gary Gygax's design used rarity to make things difficult. This form of design reasoned that the odds against certain die rolls justified making powerful character builds rare, and it all began with character creation.

Character creation was originally 3d6 for each attribute, full stop. With the advent of computers, players could automate this rolling process by rapidly randomizing thousands of characters until they got the combination of numbers they wanted. These numbers dictated the PC's class (paladins, for example, required a very strict set of high attributes). Psionics too, in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, required a specific set of attributes that made it possible to spontaneously manifest psionic powers. Later forms of character generation introduced character choice: 4d6 assigned to certain attributes, a point buy system, etc. But in the early incarnations of the game, it was in the player's interest, if she wanted to play a paladin or to play a psionic, to roll a lot -- or just cheat (using the dice pictured above).

Game masters have a phrase for cheating known as "fudging" a roll; the concept of fudging means the game master may ignore a roll for or against PCs if it doesn't fit the kind of game he's trying to create. PCs can be given extra chances to reroll, or the roll could be interpreted differently. This "fudging" happens in an ebb and flow as the GM determines the difficulty and if the die rolls support the narrative.

GM screens were used as a reference tool with relevant charts and to prevent players from seeing maps and notes. But they also helped make it easier for GMs to fudge rolls. A poll on RPG.net shows that over 90% of GMs fudged rolls behind the screen.

Cheating Is the Rule

One of Fifth Edition's innovations was adopting a common form of cheating -- the reroll -- by creating advantage. PCs now have rules encouraging them to roll the dice twice, something they've been doing for decades with the right excuse.

When it comes to cheating, it seems like we've all been doing it. But given that we're all working together to have a good time, is it really cheating?

Mike "Talien" Tresca is a freelance game columnist, author, communicator, and a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to http://amazon.com. You can follow him at Patreon.
 
Michael Tresca

Comments

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Fate is a more player/narrative-driven game. Combat is not the end-all-be-all of the game. Character advancement is not necessarily about improving your combat effectiveness nor should your success as a character be measured in combat or the accumulation of experience thereof.
Unfortunately combat was the only example I could quickly think of where it's usually pretty obvious who's contributing and who's not.

Does that mean that characters will shy away from combat? For your groups? Maybe. In my actual experience running Fate? Hell no!
Good on your lot, then! :)

So just for an example. A minor milestone reward may include renaming one of your non-High Concept aspects. So you could rename your "Disheveled by Brother's Unsolved Murder" aspect to "Sworn Enemy of Cobra Cult" after finding out who did it during play. So now your aspect invokes/compels will work towards the latter now that the former has been made irrelevant through completing an arc wherein you discovered that Cobra Cult was responsible for your brother's death. And just as a quick refresher, when you invoke an aspect, you spend one of your fate points generally either to re-roll your results or to gain a +2 bonus to the dice results for a given action. But you can only invoke that aspect when that aspect is relevant to the narrative fiction. So you may only get that +2 bonus or re-roll when you are dealing with Cobra Cult in some way, whether that is combat or investigating a scene they are likely involved.

(1) If you are making a discovery as a group, as is the case more often then not, then you get XP as a group.
OK, what if you're making a discovery as an individual? Using your example above, what if I discovered the Cobra Cult knocked off my brother through research I did on my own - would only I get the xp? If yes, we're good. :)

(2) XP in Numenera tends to be given in incredibly small gradients: 1-2 XP.

Numenera is composed of Six Tiers/Levels. So in order to level up, you need to spend 4 XP on each of the four requirements for each level-up: effort, edge, skill, 4 points to your stat pools. You don't need to know what these do for our discussion, but I thought I would list them. So 16 XP per tier for 5 tiers or 80 XP total to get from Tier 1 to Tier 6. But there is not really a need to be in a mad rush to Tier 6 as the power curve is not as pronounced as it is in D&D.
So, same general idea but a slower and softer advancement. Sounds good!

XP is not just meant to be hoarded, but also used. XP is also spent in other ways, such as 1 XP for a short-term benefit (e.g., re-rolls, rejecting GM Intrusions), 2 XP for a medium-term benefit (e.g., localized skill, jury-rigging a one use magical item from multiple other ones), and 3 XP for long-term benefits (e.g., contacts, familiarity [+1 to rolls for a certain task]). But players may still want to hoard their XP for leveling.
3e D&D had you use xp for magic item creation; and I'll say here as I said there: it's an awful mechanic!

Why? Because it takes xp completely out of any type of in-game rationale (they represent the accumulated memories and experience and training a character has had at the various skills/abilities/etc. of its class) and puts them completely into the metagame as a player-spendable currency.

One word reply: unconvinced. Why not just make the weak baboon worth 0 XP because you just defeated a weak baboon, which should probably be worthless to begin with, and then make the strong baboon worth 2 XP?
In part because nothing is ever worth 0 xp. One weak baboon in this case might be worth 0.2 xp but when ten of them jump you they're worth ten times that. I'd rather granularize it so the lone one is still worth something, even if very little.

Nigel Tufnel: "...but these [baboons] go to 23 XP."
Er...I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure it was Derek Smalls in that scene... :)

Lan-"nobody knows 'oo they were, or, wot they were doin'"-efan
 

prosfilaes

Villager
So, secretly altering a die roll after the fact during the game in order to affect a different outcome is somehow not cheating?

You have a quite different definition of cheating from me.
Yes, I do. I've given you a functional definition: "To violate rules in order to gain advantage from a situation", taken from a dictionary, so it's not incredibly idiosyncratic. Why go "Ok. :uhoh:"?

a) dishonest in nature because you are keeping the activity secret from the players
GMs keep a lot of activity secret from the players. Most games involve some sort of secret information, like cards concealed from other players.

b) self-serving because you are attempting to create a specific outcome that you think is better.
There are definitions of self-serving that include basically everything, because even if you give the bum on the corner your last buck, it's because you feel better about doing so. More normal definitions, however, would exclude actions taken to benefit others, and GMs usually ignore dice rolls to make the game more fun for their players as much for themselves.

Oh, right, it's not cheating because it's allowed by the rules which have been changed over the years to rebrand cheating as "fudging".
Again, by the definition I gave you above, if it's not violating rules, it's not cheating.

Game design evolves by breaking the assumptions of previous games. Is it cheating to show your teammates your cards? Not in Pandemic, and not in Hanabi, where it is cheating to look at your cards, but you can see your teammate's cards. According to a poker judge I know, official rules say you say just about anything about your cards except the truth. It's a weird rule, and I don't quite understand the motivation, but the power to create that rule allows exploring that game space. There's a competitive card game I played long ago where you could pick up a card that would let the player take gems from the board if they could do it without being caught. It is an interesting rule/card, and a good thing that game makers could explore that space. I think it bad to throw around the word "cheating" to include things that game designers consider features of their games.
 

pemerton

Legend
And a strong incentive to metagame, as a probably unintended side effect.
Huh? The bond mechanic in DW is based on a similar mechanic in Apocalypse World, desgined by Vincent Baker who is up there with Robin Laws as one of the most important and influential RPG designers. The incentives the system generates are absolutely intended.

Until you don't, or can't, because your PC has died or otherwise been rendered unfit to continue.
At leat in my group, players whose PCs die are allowed to make new characters and keep playing.

As soon as the game can kill your PC without your-as-player pre-approval, the basic goal is survival.
Do you have any argument for this assertion?

A DM running those encounters in such a way as to spare the PCs is kinda letting the game down.
I'm not talking about GM-side techniques. I'm talking about player-side resources.

over-cautious (i.e. cowardly) gaming *is* a power-gaming tactic, only way more passive-aggressive than how the term is usually applied. She who fights and runs away lives to fight another day...even if in her running away she's left her (now ex-)companions to take the heat for her and maybe even get killed off.
How do you envisage this happening in the context of 4e? What fun do you think that "over-cautious" player is having? What resolution methods are you envisaging?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I am asking that you respect what I wrote and what I have argued. I don't know why you feel obligated to be obtuse about showing a modicum of human decency and common courtesy here. So how about this? How about you come back with an argument that actually engages and respects what I am arguing as opposed to what you imagine I am arguing, and then I will engage that? Adopting that approach going forward does seem more in line with the board's rules and etiquette.
Perhaps I misunderstood what you have been saying. My understanding of what you have been saying is that a rule that allows you to alter die rolls(which is another rule) is cheating. Is that correct or incorrect?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
If it's part of organized play, it absolutely can and should be called cheating to not use the rules.
Organized play is a different beast and should be discussed entirely separately from normal game play. In any case, the rules of 1e, 2e, 3e and 5e include the DM altering die rolls, so...
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I've encountered GMs whose desire to tell others the story they've come up with is no all that altruistic!
By your definition, certainly; and by that of a detached observer, possibly.

But from the perspective of the GM in question? Almost never. They think they're doing a good thing...and sometimes they really are: a few (but sadly, not enough) GMs are good enough story-tellers that being along for the ride is more than entertainment enough.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Huh? The bond mechanic in DW is based on a similar mechanic in Apocalypse World, desgined by Vincent Baker who is up there with Robin Laws as one of the most important and influential RPG designers. The incentives the system generates are absolutely intended.
So am I right in interpreting this to mean you believe these designers intentionally want to incent the sort of metagaming I described?

If yes, I can safely ignore their designs and ideas henceforth and not feel like I'm missing anything useful.

At leat in my group, players whose PCs die are allowed to make new characters and keep playing.
At the same level? (I assume yes for 4e but that's not the case for all systems and-or tables) The same wealth? The same amount of in-game character knowledge?

And if a PC dies halfway through an adventure and isn't revived until the adventure is complete, does that PC still get full xp for the adventure? A full treasury share (and this should be up to the players to decide)?

Do you have any argument for this assertion?
Yes: a PC's simple sense of self-preservation.

If I'm playing Jocinda* in H1 and we plow our way through to the final two big set-piece encounters (the first of which is quite good, the second of which needs a lot of fill-in-the-blanks from the DM to make work), it doesn't matter if my character goal is to slay Kalarel and free my ancestor - the trapped knight from the shield, whose name I forget - if I don't survive the pseudo-vampires above.

And both those encounters certainly have the potential to be deadly if one gets unlucky and-or dumb and-or doesn't have the right resources in the party, provided the DM doesn't pull her punches.

* - though I keep using the name, I've never played a character named Jocinda...that'll have to be my next one, after the five or so other "next ones" already waiting in line. :)

I'm not talking about GM-side techniques. I'm talking about player-side resources.
I'm talking about both, because no matter how much resources the game gives the players eventually their luck will run out and - unless the DM prevents it somehow - one or more PCs will die.

How do you envisage this happening in the context of 4e? What fun do you think that "over-cautious" player is having? What resolution methods are you envisaging?
Not sure what you mean about "what resolution methods am I envisaging?" - the coward flees (provided she can safely detach herself from combat her escape is automatic if she knows a safe way out, maybe a skill challenge otherwise) while the rest play out the combat as per usual.

And in the extreme case: if the rest of the party get slaughtered, suddenly the coward is now the party! She can go back to town and recruit some replacements (and probably would, once everyone else gets their new PCs rolled up); but now she's the boss. She can hand-pick who comes into what is now her party; and she-as-player can even in meta-speak announce what she'd prefer to see as replacements before anyone does any rolling, should she so desire. (and if she's really ambitious and-or lucky she can sneak back in and loot her fallen comrades before heading back to town, boosting her wealth considerably - wealth she's under no obligation to share with anyone)

IME, while this turnover does happen it never happens this quickly; the deaths and replacements are one or two at a time over a series of adventures, and over the long run the coward becomes both the wealthiest (it's nearly unavoidable) and the longest-serving - meaning she's made herself the star in that most of the story continuity is going to end up going through her.

Lanefan
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Then altering the INABILITY TO FLY AFTER THE FACT is also cheating. You can't have it both ways. Either altering something after the fact is cheating, or it isn't.
Er...while I pretty much agree with your general stance, Max, I think you're comparing apples and oranges on this one.

An in-game event that changes something within the game is simply part of the game. Human Lanefan casting a Fly spell on Human Maxperson who can't normally fly gets Maxie in the air, as that's how the spell works and what the spell does.

A legal game-mechanical event that changes something (e.g. a successful confirm roll turning a normal-hit 20 into a crit) is also simply a part of how the game works: after the fact it's being determined that this particular hit causes more harm to the victim than usual.

An illegal game mechanical event that changes something (e.g. a player rolling a 5 to hit but declaring the die says 15) is cheating. Ditto a player whose character bangs off seven 3rd-level spells in a day despite only having three 3rd-level slots and none higher.

The only debate is whether a DM is bound by the same game-mechanical event rules as the players are, to which the answer - at least in D&D - seems to be a more or less unified "no" across most of the editions thus far, at least when (and in some cases only when) it comes to rolling dice.

Lanefan
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
So you want to claim the credit for attacking people for using the dictionary definition of "cheat", but decline to explain why that was reasonable, or why you didn't use yourself as an example of people arguing over the definition of English words?
While you are at, how about asking me if I'm still beating my wife? :hmm:

Unfortunately combat was the only example I could quickly think of where it's usually pretty obvious who's contributing and who's not.
That's fine. So maybe it is obvious for you, but this is not always clear for me. When I look at some of my past groups, whether as a player or at the helm as the GM, then I have generally seen all players attempting to contribute to the best of their abilities. The bard in one group was a wet noodle in combat, but they were contributing.

OK, what if you're making a discovery as an individual? Using your example above, what if I discovered the Cobra Cult knocked off my brother through research I did on my own - would only I get the xp? If yes, we're good. :)
In the Cypher System? Probably, though the Cobra Cult example was for Fate, which uses milestones and not XP. But if your "fighters" (glaives) fought to get to that relic, the "rogue" (jack) found the relic, and then the "wizard" (nano) identified it, then who made the discovery possible? That's why Numenera favors giving XP to the group. There is a team effort to get to that point. If one player character was alone when they ventured off and then found and identified that relic, then yeah I would probably award them with an XP for that. But then I would probably then offset that by maybe throwing out GM Intrusions for other characters. But that's just a reality of players: some players are proactive while others prefer being reactive.

So, same general idea but a slower and softer advancement. Sounds good!
Yeah, and the Cypher System also contributed to my views regarding the hyperinflated numbers of XP. But it becomes easy if you want to adjust the required XP for each level. So it may take 4 XP per benefit to get from Tier 1 to 2, but you may decide for your games that it will now take 6 XP per benefit to get from Tier 2 to Tier 3. But determining what is appropriate for your games may require playing several longer campaigns to see how pacing as written would be for your table.

FYI, the guiding mechanic of the Cypher System is that the GM assigns a difficulty of 0-10 and multiplies that number by 3 to determine the Target Number. The Target Number is the number that the players have to beat on a d20 roll. So for example, if the Difficulty is 5, then the players have to roll a 15 or higher to succeed. But unlike 3e+ D&D, final resolution happens on the roll result and not after. The Cypher System is not "roll d20 + player modifiers = result". Instead the GM establishes base TN and then the player attempts to lower that difficulty with their various resources, and then they have to beat that number on a d20 roll. One of the benefits of this system is that this places greater tension on the die roll and that tension is not lost in the calculations of "I rolled a 10, plus my combined +5 strength/proficiency bonus, plus +1 bonus from my magic sword. That is a 16 total. Do I hit? [and all eyes turn to the GM]" In the Cypher System, you know your success as soon as you roll. As you can imagine, if you are facing a task/monster with a difficulty of 7+, then you are dealing with Target Numbers that are 21 to 30, which you can't reach naturally on a d20 roll. Hence the players have means to lower that Difficulty/TN.

So players have a number of tools at their disposal to lower the required Difficulty roll for them. For starters, players have skills (e.g., climbing, knowledge). If they are trained in a skill, they can lower that Difficulty by 1. And if they are specialized in a skill, they can lower that Difficulty by 2. So through skills, they can lower the Target Number from 3-6. So if a player was specialized in climbing, they could turn a Difficulty 5 task into a Difficulty 3 task. In other words, they would go from needing to roll a 15 or higher to needing to roll a 9 or higher. But players may also have assets. An "asset" is just a thing or circumstance that helps make things easier (e.g., books for knowledge, rope for climbing, shields for defense), which also can reduce the Difficulty by 1. Players also have Effort. Players can a spend points from one of their relevant ability/HP pools (Might, Speed, Intellect) to expend Effort to lower that difficulty further. Effort has a minimum point value per level of Effort you choose to apply, but players are capped by how much effort they can apply, which is determined by tier level or whether you have advanced your character with that 4 XP for the next grade of Effort. Certain abilities and powers can also lower the difficulty.

I realize that this may sound complicated, but I assure you that it is remarkably intuitive. But if you notice, the only real involvement that the DM has here in is in establishing the Difficulty/TN, which is as simple as 0-10, though the DM may also be required to provide discretion whether the players may have additional assets (e.g., the high ground in combat). Monsters are created by essentially just establishing a Difficulty. If players are facing a Difficulty 3 monster, the players have to roll 9 or higher to hit, 9 or higher to defend themselves from its attacks, and its attacks do 3 damage (from its difficulty). The GM does not roll. The rest is on the players. The players roll everything, including their defense rolls. The players are mustering their character resources for success.

And this is all a long-winded way of saying that monsters are sometimes much higher than the players' pay grade so getting around the monster becomes the puzzle between you and the discovery. To a certain degree, this system weirdly operates under - what is presumably my impression of - an Old School mentality. But you are going for discovering neat stuff to bring back and not gold. You are facing creatures and oddities you can't necessarily beat, and so you have to work around that. You are playing a game that involves the managing and attrition of player resources.

3e D&D had you use xp for magic item creation; and I'll say here as I said there: it's an awful mechanic!

Why? Because it takes xp completely out of any type of in-game rationale (they represent the accumulated memories and experience and training a character has had at the various skills/abilities/etc. of its class) and puts them completely into the metagame as a player-spendable currency.
Yeah, it's somewhat counterintuitive. And I have seen people propose some alternate mechanics or different types of pools: XP for character advancement and "XP" for PC in-narrative spending.

Er...I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure it was Derek Smalls in that scene... :)
Derek Smalls is the bassist. Nigel Tufnel is the lead guitarist.

Perhaps I misunderstood what you have been saying. My understanding of what you have been saying is that a rule that allows you to alter die rolls(which is another rule) is cheating. Is that correct or incorrect?
I am saying that "fudging" operates as cheating de facto though not cheating de jure. Per Law it may not be, but per Practice it fundamentally is. Hence [MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION]'s use of the phrase "institutionalized cheating." And I think that this distinction is likely causing a lot of the frustration in this discussion.

I went to Matt Colville's subreddit the other day. There was a thread there about DMs cheating/fudging, though centered around Puffin Forest's video "Should the DM Cheat in D&D?" From my sense of his fanbase, many of the players attracted to Matt Colville's game style tend to be grognards. So sticking my head in the thread for a gander, I was naturally expecting more of the same as here. But not once was I able to find there the phrase "the DM/GM can't cheat." Instead, there was a thread-wide recognition in place that on an essential level, that fudging is a mode of cheating. Some were putting a negative spin on this (e.g., "I don't cheat/fudge!) while others were not ("I cheat as a DM."). Some were talking about how cheating is sometimes necessary by the DM, but others were speaking against the practice. Even those who think that cheating is within the powers of the DM used the language of cheating as the natural language of the discourse. "Cheat/ing" was the predominate word used for this sort of "rules engagement" by the DM. Now before dismissing everyone in that thread as being "wrong" or using "incorrect terms," it's worth considering why other people outside of this forum find "cheating" the natural word choice for this discussion.
 

pemerton

Legend
So am I right in interpreting this to mean you believe these designers intentionally want to incent the sort of metagaming I described?

If yes, I can safely ignore their designs and ideas henceforth and not feel like I'm missing anything useful.
Well, I mostly didn't worry about the details of what you said because it doesn't reflect the actual content and operation of the Bonds mechanic - for instance, you talk about players whose PCs don't get along with others being sunk, but that would stop you having a bond like "X has insulted my deity; I do not trust them", or "X is soft, but I will make them hard like me" - just to pick one cleric and one fighter bond.

Your seeming assumption that bonds are mutual is also wrong - given that bonds are a function of class, and by default there is only one of each class in a DW party, bonds will almost always be distinctive and one-way.

But the whole point of the mechanic is to give players an incentive to focus on interpersonal relationships within the party, and to play them hard (so as to arrive at resolutions that then yield XP).
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Er...while I pretty much agree with your general stance, Max, I think you're comparing apples and oranges on this one.

An in-game event that changes something within the game is simply part of the game. Human Lanefan casting a Fly spell on Human Maxperson who can't normally fly gets Maxie in the air, as that's how the spell works and what the spell does.
It's not about being in game or out. It's about using a rule to alter other rules. But just for the sake of argument, there were magic items and feats in 3e that allowed the player to re-roll or alter rolls when used, and 5e has feats and abilities that characters can activate to give advantage or disadvantage. Advantage/disadvantage allows you to ignore one roll in favor of a second roll. That would be cheating according to @Husssar and [MENTION=5142]Aldarc[/MENTION], even though it's an in-game event changing something within the game.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I am saying that "fudging" operates as cheating de facto though not cheating de jure. Per Law it may not be, but per Practice it fundamentally is. Hence [MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION]'s use of the phrase "institutionalized cheating." And I think that this distinction is likely causing a lot of the frustration in this discussion.
I get what you are saying, but it still boils down to the DM using one rule to alter another. You are calling it cheating for the DM to do that. There's no difference between a DM using a rule to alter die rolls(another rule) and the DM using any other rule to alter rules other than rolling. You are just arbitrarily declaring one to be cheating(de facto or otherwise) and the other not.

I went to Matt Colville's subreddit the other day. There was a thread there about DMs cheating/fudging, though centered around Puffin Forest's video "Should the DM Cheat in D&D?" From my sense of his fanbase, many of the players attracted to Matt Colville's game style tend to be grognards. So sticking my head in the thread for a gander, I was naturally expecting more of the same as here. But not once was I able to find there the phrase "the DM/GM can't cheat." Instead, there was a thread-wide recognition in place that on an essential level, that fudging is a mode of cheating. Some were putting a negative spin on this (e.g., "I don't cheat/fudge!) while others were not ("I cheat as a DM."). Some were talking about how cheating is sometimes necessary by the DM, but others were speaking against the practice. Even those who think that cheating is within the powers of the DM used the language of cheating as the natural language of the discourse. "Cheat/ing" was the predominate word used for this sort of "rules engagement" by the DM. Now before dismissing everyone in that thread as being "wrong" or using "incorrect terms," it's worth considering why other people outside of this forum find "cheating" the natural word choice for this discussion.
I just popped over and it took me about a minute to find someone saying that DMs alter dice for the benefit of the players, and players do it to cheat. That clearly indicates, even if they didn't use the phrase "the DM can't cheat," that the person only views it as cheating on the part of the player.

I found this in another thread, "It doesn't make sense to say that a DM is "cheating". Players cheat in a game, referees adjudicate."

And this thread has all kinds of people saying cheat is the wrong word. https://www.reddit.com/r/mattcolville/comments/8nquej/should_the_gm_cheat_in_dd_questions_for_fellow/
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
Advantage/disadvantage allows you to ignore one roll in favor of a second roll. That would be cheating according to @Husssar and [MENTION=5142]Aldarc[/MENTION], even though it's an in-game event changing something within the game.
Hussar can speak for himself, but if you think that this is cheating according to me, then I'm skeptical that you have been reading closely. IMHO, it would be cheating if you fudged the dice results of a check that used Advantage/Disadvantage as you are misreporting or being dishonest about the given results.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Hussar can speak for himself, but if you think that this is cheating according to me, then I'm skeptical that you have been reading closely. IMHO, it would be cheating if you fudged the dice results of a check that used Advantage/Disadvantage as you are misreporting or being dishonest about the given results.
It's the same logical form. Your argument can be applied to every other rule that alters anything after the fact. You've arbitrarily declared one example of "Use rule A to alter rule B after the fact" as cheating, but another example of "Use rule A to alter rule B after the fact" is not cheating.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
I get what you are saying, but it still boils down to the DM using one rule to alter another. You are calling it cheating for the DM to do that. There's no difference between a DM using a rule to alter die rolls(another rule) and the DM using any other rule to alter rules other than rolling. You are just arbitrarily declaring one to be cheating(de facto or otherwise) and the other not.
I disagree, but these differences are likely irreconcilable.

I just popped over and it took me about a minute to find someone saying that DMs alter dice for the benefit of the players, and players do it to cheat. That clearly indicates, even if they didn't use the phrase "the DM can't cheat," that the person only views it as cheating on the part of the player.

I found this in another thread, "It doesn't make sense to say that a DM is "cheating". Players cheat in a game, referees adjudicate."

And this thread has all kinds of people saying cheat is the wrong word. https://www.reddit.com/r/mattcolville/comments/8nquej/should_the_gm_cheat_in_dd_questions_for_fellow/
It seems you're missing the forest for the trees here or using the presence of shrubbery to attempt disproving the presence of the forest. :erm:

It's the same logical form. Your argument can be applied to every other rule that alters anything after the fact. You've arbitrarily declared one example of "Use rule A to alter rule B after the fact" as cheating, but another example of "Use rule A to alter rule B after the fact" is not cheating.
Apples are round. Oranges are round. Therefore, apples are oranges? One should not mistake a similarity of form with a sameness of form or essence.
 
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Ilbranteloth

Explorer
In fairness, it's the other way around: "It's not a critical, wait, yes it is!"
Mechanically, yes. Psychologically no. It would be like making a T-shirt with a d20 on a 20 that says “Crit Happens*”

“*when confirmed.”

In all prior (and later) editions, a 20 is a critical. So the new rule altered the result of the roll. Generally when somebody throws a 20, that’s the big deal. I even have one of those dice that flash when you roll a 20.

Altering the result of a die after it is thrown seems to be (one of) [MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION]’s threshold for what he calls cheating. I obviously disagree.

I think it was definitely a change in the rules, and one that makes a certain amount of sense, especially when increasing the critical threat range. I like our solution better, since they usually know after a round or two what is needed to hit, they know before they roll if a 20 will be a crit. But it still takes away a bit of the fun of the natural 20.

To be fair, once you’re used to the rule, you know that the confirmation roll is the one that it exciting.
 
At the same level? The same wealth? The same amount of in-game character knowledge?
Replacement characters seem like an issue if there's going to be this conceit that survival is a key objective. In 1e (and, I assume the other classic versions of that period), your replacement character was freshly-rolled, new stats, 1st level. But, the 'skilled play' paradigm of the day /did/ expect you to use the knowledge you'd gained in playing that character when playing your next one (if he walked into a gelatinous cube, you'd be right for your next character to be wary of oddly dust-free corridors and floating skeletons). So in 1e, the answer would be no-no-Yes. 3e introduced the idea of starting at level, with 'level appropriate' (and, since you got to choose how you spent that wealth, it could be a bit of an advantage to build a new character), but, the idea of using accumulated 'player knowledge' had long since gone out of style as 'metagaming, so yes-yes-no (ditto 4e). 5e discarded the idea of wealth/level, entirely, in theory, a character is fine with starting gear at any point in his career, AFAIK, the attitude towards player knowledge hasn't changed, in spite of 5e harkening back to the classic game in so many other ways so successfully, so the answer there is yes-no-no.

And in the extreme case: if the rest of the party get slaughtered, suddenly the coward is now the party! She can go back to town and recruit some replacements (and probably would, once everyone else gets their new PCs rolled up); but now she's the boss. She can hand-pick who comes into what is now her party; and she-as-player can even in meta-speak announce what she'd prefer to see as replacements before anyone does any rolling, should she so desire. (and if she's really ambitious and-or lucky she can sneak back in and loot her fallen comrades before heading back to town, boosting her wealth considerably - wealth she's under no obligation to share with anyone) IME, while this turnover does happen it never happens this quickly; the deaths and replacements are one or two at a time over a series of adventures, and over the long run the coward becomes both the wealthiest (it's nearly unavoidable) and the longest-serving - meaning she's made herself the star in that most of the story continuity is going to end up going through her.
So, one of my old gaming buddies, before he went off D&D entirely (he became a GURPS fanatic), ended up 'stuck playing the cleric' one time and managed really well. First of all, he played an evil cleric, then he'd heal the party /very/ selectively, engineering things so that they'd all end up dead at convenient points in the adventure, and he could collect all the treasure, all the exp, and head out to recruit a bunch of new 1st level dupes to do it all over again...

...what you describe, and what he experienced, were, IMHO, degenerate cases of D&D play, they illustrate how badly wrong the game can go with the wrong DM, an embittered player, or even with the table just acquiring some bad habits.

it's worth considering why other people outside of this forum find "cheating" the natural word choice for this discussion.
I tend to consider this forum some pretty jaded folks (being pretty jaded, myself, and prone to projecting that), but you are talking reddit. That's prettymuch the Mos Eisley of internet discussion. Self-identifying as 'a cheater' was probably the least-edgy thing they did that morning.
 

Kobold Boots

Villager
So, secretly altering a die roll after the fact during the game in order to affect a different outcome is somehow not cheating?

You have a quite different definition of cheating from me. It's:

a) dishonest in nature because you are keeping the activity secret from the players
b) self-serving because you are attempting to create a specific outcome that you think is better.

In what way is this not cheating? Oh, right, it's not cheating because it's allowed by the rules which have been changed over the years to rebrand cheating as "fudging".

Ok. :uhoh:
The rules have never been changed over the years. Go back a few pages and you'll find my quotation from 1st edition. There was a brief omission of what was to become rule 0 in 3.0 that was re added and clarified with 3.5.

No matter how many times you try to continue an argument that supports your point of view, your premise is factually incorrect from a rules perspective. You're mistaking changes in language and slang for reality.

Thank you,
KB
 

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